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Hispanic Family Facts: Despite academic difficulties, young low-income Latino students have the social skills needed to succeed

As a new school year begins, children across the country enter their classrooms with a wide range of skills. Recent research led by Christina Padilla and Natasha Cabrera finds that although low-income Latino children begin school, on average, with fewer academic skills than their white peers, they have the interpersonal and behavioral skills needed to succeed in the early elementary years. Specifically:
  • Low-income Latino children in kindergarten through third grade trail behind their white peers in reading and math skills. The gap in reading and math skills between low-income Hispanic and white students translates to between two and four months of learning.
  • However, teachers report that the social skills—indicated by strong interpersonal skills and few behavioral problems—of their low-income Latino students in kindergarten through third grade are either on par with or surpass those of their white and black peers.
To help close the academic gap, Latino parents can support their children’s math and literacy skills with activities in the home, such as reading books and doing puzzles together. Learn more about this research here.